San Francisco Chronicle Examines Potential Effect of Buffett Donation to Gates Foundation on HIV/AIDS Vaccine Research
The San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday examined the effect that Berkshire Hathaway Chair Warren Buffett's donation to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation could have on HIV/AIDS vaccine research, as well as the challenges of developing an effective vaccine (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/28). Melinda Gates on Tuesday suggested that the Gates Foundation aims to use a portion of more than $30 billion in donations from Buffett to fund HIV vaccine and microbicides research (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/27). According to Mitchell Warren, executive director of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, the Gates Foundation is seeking proposals for grants totaling $300 million over the next five years for HIV/AIDS vaccine projects. "You don't get a lot of good news in the AIDS field, but the doubling of the size of the Gates Foundation is right up there in the great news category," Warren said, adding, "The collective wisdom is that we need $1 billion to $1.2 billion for vaccine research. We are getting closer to where we think the optimal level is." According to Warren, about $700 million is spent annually on global HIV/AIDS vaccine research, with most of the funding coming from NIH. The U.S. government spends about $500 million annually on HIV/AIDS vaccine research, the Chronicle reports.
IAVI Senior Vice President for Public Policy Robert Hecht said an additional $300 million to $400 million annually could "help fill gaps" in vaccine research and development by creating more sites in developing countries where clinical trials can be conducted, funding early stage clinical trials of multiple experimental vaccines and supporting researchers to find "broadly neutralizing antibodies" that could prevent contraction of multiple HIV strains. According to the Chronicle, increased vaccine funding "will be welcome," though experts in the field "concede that what is holding up a product is ... not money" but rather the fact that researchers "still do not understand precisely which immune responses are necessary to protect an individual" from contracting HIV. "There are fundamental scientific concepts that need to be addressed and solved," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/28).
Several broadcast programs reported on Buffett's announcement and the implications for charitable giving to global health issues:
- CBS' "Evening News": The segment includes comments from Bill Gates; Larry Geiter, senior director of epidemiology at the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation; and Anders Norstrom, acting director-general of the World Health Organization (Kaladin, "Evening News," CBS, 6/27). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NBC's "Nightly News": The segment includes comments from Bill Gates; Irwin Redlener, president of the Children's Health Fund; and a physician who received funding to research a hookworm vaccine that is now in clinical trials (Fratangelo, "Nightly News," NBC, 6/27). The complete segment is available online in Windows Media.
- NPR's "All Things Considered": The segment includes comments from Nils Daulaire, president and CEO of the Global Health Council; Klausner; and Christopher Murray, author of "the Global Burden of Disease"(Knox, "All Things Considered," NPR, 6/27). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.